Travels from Hurricane-Ravaged Louisiana to Testify for Patients
Alexandria, Va. - Sept. 11, 2012
Louisiana pharmacist Randy J. Mire, PharmD testified before Congress today that efforts to combat the diabetes epidemic in his home state and elsewhere would be significantly undermined if independent community pharmacies like his are forced to stop offering diabetes testing supplies as a result of Medicare's competitive bidding program for durable medical equipment (DME).
The Bayou State has among the highest diabetes rates in the nation, he noted, and his patients have complained that mail order deliveries lack adequate patient consultations and are unreliable—a fact driven home by the recent impact of Hurricane Isaac on his community. Mire appeared on behalf of the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) before the U.S. House Small Business Subcommittee on Healthcare and Technology.
"My pharmacy is one of the very few pharmacies still in the area that provides these essential DME supplies to patients," testified Mire, owner of Gem Drugs, located in Reserve and Gramercy, La. "To me, these patients are more than just a prescription. I provide DME supplies in order to make certain that the beneficiaries have access to the supplies that they need. If I were to decide not to offer these DME supplies because the burden of offering such supplies has become too high and the cost too much, then these beneficiaries would have nowhere else to turn to receive the face-to-face consultations and quality supplies that I provide to them and that they deserve."
Mire urged lawmakers to support H.R. 1936, The Medicare Access to Diabetes Supplies Act. The bipartisan legislation would allow small pharmacies (defined as 10 locations or fewer) to continue to furnish patients with diabetes testing supplies and personalized counseling on their proper use, as competitive bidding is implemented. Independent pharmacies are often located in underserved rural or inner-city locations where there may be few, if any, other pharmacies or health care providers around.
"My patients turn to me and my pharmacies to provide them with the DME supplies that they desperately need when they have nowhere else to turn and their mail order supplier has failed them," Mire testified. He added, "My pharmacies, like all community pharmacies, play an essential role in improving health care outcomes while decreasing long-term health care costs."
A survey of more than 400 community pharmacists recently conducted by NCPA reinforces the concerns voiced by Mire. Key findings include:
In addition to Mire's testimony (available in its entirety here), NCPA submitted written comments to the subcommittee (available here).
The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA®) represents the interests of America's community pharmacists, including the owners of more than 23,000 independent community pharmacies. Together they represent a $93 billion health care marketplace, dispense nearly 40% of all retail prescriptions, and employ more than 315,000 people, including 62,400 pharmacists. Independent community pharmacists are readily accessible medication experts who can help lower health care spending. They are committed to maximizing the appropriate use of lower-cost generic drugs and reducing the estimated $290 billion that is wasted annually by improper medication use. To learn more go to www.ncpanet.org or read NCPA's blog, The Dose, at http://ncpanet.wordpress.com.
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